Gardener : Plants & troughs : how to

Directions for Making Hyper Tufa Troughs

Creating Trough

  1. Layer 1/2" of damp sand on your board.
  2. Build sand mold in the shape you want your trough, free form or by using a container as if for a sand castle.
  3. Make a batch of tufa mixture:
    2 parts screened peat (hardware cloth makes a good screen with 1/4" holes)
    1 part perlite
    1 part portland cement (Type 1 is the lightest gray)
    Add water slowly, mix till consistency of cottage cheese. Let sit a few minutes to absorb water.
  4. Begin to lay mix around the base of mold, press each addition lightly to affix to each other. Try to make walls of consistent thickness no less than 1" thick. Be careful not to scrimp where walls meet bottom.
  5. Make a drainage hole (or several) with a stick by poking it through the bottom till it hits the sand mold.
  6. Cover with plastic and reverse cover as condensation accumulates.

Unmolding Trough

  1. After 3 days, turn over container and clean out sand.
  2. Make any refinements by carving while cement is still workable (evening out walls that are too thick).
  3. Cover again till hard. Dry Slowly. This makes the trough stronger.
  4. When dry, leave it outside to leach out lime and cure some more. Can be left out side over winter, upside down, to weather it.


  1. Screen drainage hole.
  2. Use a mix of soil, sand and compost--making proportions suit your plants.
  3. Plant to allow for settling.
  4. For rock garden plants, mulch container with stone: pea, granite, terrarium stone, etc.